Big Data is a buzz word. It can refer to structured data, like the information in the King County Library or unstructured data, like 4922 text messages that my daughter sent out from her iPhone in April. What about the millions of votes cast for American Idol contestants every week? They come in from mobile and the Internet to vote for their favorite performer. The collection of the data determines the winners of the season.

Internet, smart phones and social media tools all contribute to big data volume. Your smart phone pictures, downloaded music and e-books are all part of big data that needs storage, sorting and retrieval on demand.  Voice Over IP (VoIP) has joined the crowd. Now, your digital voice becomes data communicated over the internet.

Since technology enables the data to travel in different channels, people are able to connect with each other more than ever–resulting in a 300-fold increase in data volumes across the internet during this decade. This brings new business opportunities; for example: data processing and management; content sharing and better dialog interfaces. At the same time, Cloud Computing is maturing. Cloud data storage and the tools can be used to store and manage the big data. Cloud infrastructure can be used to cache the data in the memory in order to facilitate the quick retrieval or data input/output speed. Cloud applications can be used for data analysis and transfer.

Some business cases are as follows:

 In September 2011, the Washington Post launched its Social Reader on Facebook and six months later, there are over 25 million users. Without using Cloud infrastructure, it would be impossible to scale the hardware to meet the demand.

Apple’s iCloud provides 5G free storage to its users in order to store their data and synchronize the data between their devices.  iOS 5 enables users to access iCloud.

Big data comes with the need for security. Data policies about the life of data, the sensitivity of data and aggregation rules need to be in place.  A true Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) plays a big role on data recovery. A good Cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS) can help distributing data efficiently, updating data in a timely fashion and removing data accordingly.

“Marketing Research” by Dawn Iacobucci and Gilbert A. Churchill Jr. states…

The most important trend in information technology is the explosion in the size of databases that provide information on customers, competitors, industries, or general economic and demographic conditions.  Thousands of databases can be accessed online, and hundreds apply to business. In addition, marketing information systems are increasingly becoming part of international competitive intelligence data systems.”

Analysis of consumer databases has become known as data mining. With more data come more precision and management issues.

All of these business cases have significant implications as a driver of business. Big data truly brings big business opportunities.

What do you see as the most important issues facing Big Data today? What concerns do you have (privacy, cost, etc.)? What benefits do we see from Big Data utilization? We look forward to your comments.